Aspen’s Abbott Aspires to Worlds Podium

USA’s Jeremy Abbott, 22, performs his Short Program to Treat by Carlos Santana at 2007 Skate Canada.

Colorado’s Jeremy Abbott has aspirations for this season as high as the state’s famous Rocky Mountains. After narrowly missing the World team last season, the Aspen native scored an impressive bronze medal at the 2007 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships which were held in his training town of Colorado Springs. This season, his goal is to medal at the World Championships in Göteborg, Sweden.

It was his second high finish at U.S. Nationals in three years when Abbott won the pewter medal for fourth place in senior men in 2007. In 2005, Abbott won the gold in junior men, his first time on the podium nationally. Before that, he finished seventh in juniors in 2004, sixth in novice in 2002, sixth in intermediates in 2000, and ninth in juvenile in 1998.

Internationally, he won the Finlandia Trophy in 2006; his first win outside the United States. This season, he placed eighth overall at his first senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada, but finished fourth in the free skate. He rebounded with a fourth place finish at the NHK Trophy in Japan in December.

Abbott started skating when he was two. “My mom skated when she was younger and she used to take me on public sessions,” he recalled. “Then, I saw Robin Cousins skating on television and wanted to take lessons so I could skate like him.” He began taking lessons when he was four.

“I also tried doing gymnastics from when I was seven or eight until I was 12 or 13,” he continued. “I did it for fun because I enjoyed flipping through the air, but it wasn’t really my sport. Gymnastics did help with my flexibility although lately I’ve lost some of it by not stretching enough and I’m trying to get it back.”

Abbott isn’t the only athlete in his family. His sister, Gwen, competed nationally in downhill skiing and in the X Games in extreme skiing. “I actually started skating and skiing about the same time,” he recalled. “I really enjoyed skiing, but I never wanted to compete. I knew I wanted to be a skater.”

The talented 22-year-old landed his first triple salchow at 15 and his first quadruple salchow at 18. “I only work on the quad salchow occasionally now,” he stated. “I’m using the quad toe with a triple toe combination in the short so I work on the quad toe more. I’m pretty consistent. I land the quad toe more than half the time.”

In his short program, Abbott also includes a triple Axel and triple Lutz. In his long program, he includes a quad toeloop, triple flip, triple loop, a double and triple Axel, and three combinations: triple Axel-triple toeloop, triple Salchow-double toeloop, and triple Lutz-triple toeloop-double toeloop.

Abbott has also competed in both dance and pairs. He first competed in ice dancing with Amanda Cunningham during the 1995-96, placing tenth in juvenile division at Junior Nationals in 1996. He the partnered with Katie Hoffmaster in 1997-98, reaching seventh in juvenile dance at the Junior Olympics in 1998.

In pairs, Abbott competed with Brittany Vise in 1998-99, taking the silver medal at the Junior Olympics in open juvenile pairs in 1998. Finally, he competed with Krystal Sorenson in 2001-02, placing 12th at Junior Nationals in intermediate pairs in 2002.

“I did dance and pairs for fun,” he explained. “I wanted to try all aspects of the sport. I really did enjoy doing both, but I much prefer skating alone.”

Abbott works with a team of coaches in Colorado Springs headed by Tom Zakrajsek. Damon Allen, Becky Calvin and Eddie Shipstad assist in his training.

“I moved down from Aspen in 1999 when my old coach (Peggy Behr), told me I needed to go to a bigger training center to further my career,” said Abbott. “She recommended Colorado Springs. I had known Tom from working with him in pairs and it’s worked out well.”

Abbott trains for about two and a half hours a day, six days a week and does another hour or two of daily off-ice training. “I do yoga occasionally for fun,” he noted, “but otherwise it’s just the usual off ice work.”

Both of Abbott’s programs are new for the 2007-08 season. Kurt Browning choreographed his 2007-08 short program to Carlos Santana’s Treat. Tom Dickson choreographed the long program, which includes Ghost Waltz from The Mistletoe Bride ballet by Paul Chihara, the Jazz Suite Waltz #2 by Dmitri Shostakovich from the Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack, River Waltz by Michel Desplat from The Painted Veil soundtrack, and Masquerade Waltz by Aram Khachaturian. “This was my first year with Kurt, and the second year I used Tom,” Abbott added.

“I usually pick all my own music,” he continued, “and I picked the music for this year. I have a pretty wide taste in music so I pick whatever grabs me and makes me want to skate. I don’t really have any favorite bands but there’s lots of music I enjoy. I got the short program music from my parents’ old Santana CD. I took a long time searching for something for the long. I always try to have something really different from the long and that music really grabbed me.”

“I have a couple of different exhibition programs,” Abbott continued. “One is to Gravity by John Mayer and the other is to Faith by George Michaels. That’s a fun, upbeat song. It has no substance but it’s fun to perform. Gravity is a really bluesy piece, kind of different.”

Abbott has helped with the choreography in his show programs and actually choreographed the short and long programs for 2003 U.S. junior ladies champion Erica Archambault. He also edits music for other skaters to earn money for his training.

“I’ve graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School, but I’ve deferred college until I finish my skating career,” Abbott noted. “I want to coach and do choreography, but I may have another career besides.”

Off ice, Abbott enjoys hanging out with friends, reading and drawing. “I like mystery and fantasy books,” he said, “like Harry Potter. My drawing is basically cartoonish.”

Abbott is already giving back to the sport. “After I won the junior men’s title in 2005, I was invited to a show in Aspen and I donated the funds to set up a program to help young male skaters at the Aspen Skating Club where I started,” he stated. “It’s really been embraced by the community and grown a lot bigger since then.” Last season, he started a second fund to give financial aid to a wider variety of skaters in the Roaring Forks Valley community.

Abbott has an Official website where he also maintains a journal.

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